By GLENN TOLLE
Some books stick to you like the stench of the grave. Take KATE CULHANE: A GHOST STORY, for instance; for the longest time I remembered reading this as a child. The only problem was…I could never remember the title. Fast forward to three years ago and I eventually tracked it down. The reason the book stuck with me had to do with its admittedly grisly contents… for a while I wasn’t sure if the book I remembered was even a book. For a while… I thought it was a nightmare.
KATE CULHANE: A GHOST STORY, as retold and illustrated by Michael Hague, is based on a tale from Irish folklore. In it, a dead man calls up from his freshly dug grave, asking to be dug up. Kate Culhane answers the call and, though frightened, digs the corpse up and brings him to the residence of a wealthy merchant and his three sons. There, she fixes the dead man porridge mixed with the blood of the sons (this is the part I remember from my childhood). Things are looking VERY grim, but Kate is no damsel in distress; she outsmarts the revenant and earns a better life for herself in the process.
Michael Hague is one of the most skilled and evocative illustrators working in children’s literature – he’s also a master of adaption and retelling. Mix these two talents together and you get books that are both wonderful to read AND look at. With every project, Hague seems to connect on some quasi-msystic level with the story he is telling. Everything works seamlessly and, in this case, to terrifying ends.
Currently, you can buy KATE CULHANE: A GHOST STORY on AMAZON in hardcover, for $4.99, plus free shipping, used, in “Very Good” condition.
If you think you and your child have the stomachs for this gruesome fable, then I’d recommend you dig it up for your collection.